Law and Order is about to undergo its biggest cast change yet! Find out why Sam Waterston is leaving the iconic series and who replaces him!
The show went from just a TV series to an institution with its division between cops investigating a murder and the prosecutors trying to win the case. While it’s been a huge hit, fans are long used to the revolving door of actors coming and going. That includes this year with Reid Scott replacing Jeffrey Donovan as a lead detective.
One mainstay has been Sam Waterston as Jack McCoy. Joining in the fifth season, McCoy’s run as ADA was notable for his drive and willingness to bend the rules to bust a guy but still doing his best to keep to ethics to win a case. Waterston’s performance made it fantastic and boosted the show to huge popularity.
The last seasons of the original Law and Order run saw McCoy promoted to District Attorney and the irony of handling an underling doing the same sort of tactics he used to pull. Waterston reprised the role on Law and Order: SVU, and to no surprise, he was brought back when NBC revived the series in 2022.
McCoy’s presence has been low, mostly in the office, talking to Nolan Price (Hugh Dancy) on cases. Waterston did mark a huge achievement as the season 22 finale was also his 400th episode.
Sadly, this epic run is coming to an end.
Why is Sam Waterston leaving Law and Order?
"The time has come for me to move on and take Jack McCoy with me. There’s sadness in leaving, but I’m just too curious about what’s next. An actor doesn’t want to let himself get too comfortable. I’m more grateful to you than I can say. L&O’s continuing and amazing long run, along with its astounding come-back, is all thanks to you and to Dick Wolf, but for whose vision, patience, perseverance, and unique combination of creative and business talents, none of this would have happened. I feel very blessed. I hope to see you all on the flip side."
It does seem this was Waterston’s decision, and it likely might have happened earlier if the 2023 Hollywood strikes hadn’t delayed Law and Order season 23. It’s sad to close out this chapter, but hopefully, McCoy gets a good sendoff with a nice retirement.
Who is replaces Waterston?
The same announcement also revealed Waterston’s replacement in Scandal star Tony Goldwyn. His character’s name and background haven’t been revealed yet.
It’s likely he’ll join after McCoy’s final episode and shake things up with Price dealing with a new boss who might have a different agenda on cases. It’s a big shock for fans to bid McCoy goodbye but it looks to be on good terms.
Fans of Law and Order are used to some big changes and yet it always gives the show more life so while it’s sad to see Waterston go, Goldwyn will hopefully continue to make the series a huge success.
Law and Order season 23 airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC and streaming on Peacock.